Help! with Tomatoes in Container - going away for 5 days

Help - Today I bought three kinds of tomatoes to plant in large pots on my deck. That’s all fine until I realized that I am going away on the 30th for 5 days. How will they get watered? My deck has southern exposure. Should I not plant them in the containers yet , water them thoroughly before I leave and put them on the covered porch? Or is it ok to plant them and water before I leave and hope for the best- it could rain. I really don’t have anyone to ask to come and water. What do you think?

Hmmm. It’s a risk. But given the situation I would plant them, water well, keep in the shade (covered porch), cross fingers.

I guess more soil will hold the moisture better. But once planted I can’t get them to the covered porch.

Then I’d water well and keep in shade. A few days with no sun is easier to recover from than 5 days of full sun and no water.

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If I leave them in the small containers they are in now I may be able to leave the, with my neighbor and she can water them when she does her own. Do you think it’s ok to not plant them for two weeks?

It depends … but most likely. The exception may be if the plant is so large and root bound in the container that it is starting to strangle itself already - but it is a little early for that to be happening with commercial plants.

Are they in plastic pots or in those pressed pots that decompose once planted? The ones that decompose will loose water much faster than plastic - those may not survive with no water for that long.

I am gone for days quite often . I have a simple drip system that hooks up to the hose bib . I have it set to water once a day . No worries when you are away .

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They are small and in plastic pots. I guess they could have been at the garden center for that long - no guarantee when they will be purchased!

They will be better off in the larger pots (as you can get more water into them). Give them a very good watering just beofre you go away. Try and create some shade for them if possible.

I suppose it depends on where you are in the world and what temperatures you have. I can usually leave pots without watering for a week, except at the height of summer. And some of my larger containers (say those above 40cm wide) never get watered.

I’m in NY so we had 90 degrees for the last two days and now we have a high of 65. No telling what it will be the few days I am away. Of course it could rain ( and spoil my trip) and be good for the plants!

The drip system is your best bet. Or have a kid in the neighborhood come by to give the plants a watering every two days.

Yeah. I have a totally black thumb, but my first thought was to embed a gauze strip or thick twine into each pot, with the other end in a container of water, nearby enough that it won’t evaporate much as it wicks water into the soil.

That’s how I do it for my houseplants, with a string stuck inside the soil leading to a bottle full of water. WIth that said, tomatoes are somewhat thirstier, so water thoroughly before you go. Put them in the shade or indoors.

You are going away for 5 days, root should not be a huge issue. I have been known to buy tomato seedlings and not plant them until a couple of weeks later because of lack of time.

But if the roots aren’t there yet, does more soil matter?

Thank you all for your help. I called the nursery where I got the tomatoes and they said they are fine to leave int he little pots for two weeks. My neighbor said I can bring them over while we are away and she will water them. She has been ill, or I’m sure she would have been happy to come to my house to water them.

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I find the neighbors are always happy to help, even though I hate asking for favors. Just bring a little souvenir for her when you return and everyone is happy!


Maybe stand the pots in a roasting tin full of water?

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My annual vacation (usually 3-4 weeks) is only possible with neighbours helping to water all my yard, balcony and patio. Of course I return the service while they are away, but since mine is mainly vegetables, tomatoes and fruits, it needs daily care. I usually bring them food gifts and they are very much appreciated.


Leave them with the neighbor and make sure she keeps them evenly moist, which is really critical for tomato health and performance. They shouldn’t ever go dry and then

She has tomatoes on her deck too so they should be fine with her. Thanks!

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So, I’m home and my tomatoes are fine. I planted one in a 22 inch planter (its narrower at the bottom) and two in a 24 inch all around pot. I was an idiot because I was so anxious to plant the tomatoes before the rain started that I planted the one and forgot that the 22" planter had no drainage holes. So my husband drilled a lot of small holes in the bottom, mostly around the edges and towards the middle. Will that be enough drainage? What do you think? I noticed that my other tomatoes, which are planted in the 24" which has large holes all the way around the bottom edge had water in the dish under the plant. The other does not. Any suggestions?

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